Marino Pierucci, a lifelong West Sacramento resident and veteran educator who was a leader in the early days of the Washington Unified School District, died April 21, his family said. He was 91.
Born and raised in Broderick, Mr. Pierucci was proud of his humble roots in a tight enclave of Italian American families on the west side of the Sacramento River. He devoted his life to serving the Yolo County community – now part of the city of West Sacramento – as an education official and civic volunteer.
After World War II, he graduated from California State University, Sacramento, and began teaching in 1955 at West Acres Elementary, one of two schools in the small Washington Elementary School District in West Sacramento. He advanced to assistant superintendent as Washington grew to take in about a dozen schools in eastern Yolo County and formed a unified district.
He spent about 18 months as interim superintendent in the 1970s and retired as head of business administration in 1984. Meanwhile, he was active in local politics and served on the first planning commission after West Sacramento incorporated in 1987. He belonged to Kiwanis and held leadership positions in the California Association of School Business Officials, a statewide professional group.
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“He grew up dirt poor on dirt streets, when nobody expected much of kids from Broderick, and he felt like he had accomplished a lot,” his son, Martin, said. “He liked to say, ‘Not bad for a boy from Broderick.’ ”
Marino Pierucci was born June 26, 1922, to Italians who ran a saloon in the basement of their house on Sixth Street during Prohibition. He played sports and graduated from Woodland High School in 1940.
“They had a bus to go to school in the morning, but he had to hitchhike home after practice,” his son said. “They used to catch rides on hops trucks.”
Mr. Pierucci served in Army Air Corps training during World War II. He attended Sacramento Junior College and Sacramento State on the GI Bill and earned a history degree and teaching credential in 1954, setting an important example as the eldest of four children whose immigrant parents encouraged education.
“I always looked up to him as an individual that I could mimic and use as a road map for my career,” said his brother Dick, a retired coach and athletic director at Sacramento City College. “He played sports, and I followed him. He supported me in everything that I did.”
Mr. Pierucci married Mary Loscutoff, had a son and enjoyed baseball, hunting and golf. He had many lifelong friends in east Yolo County and reminisced fondly about growing up in Broderick.
“He said it was as close to paradise as you could find,” his son said. “The baseball diamond was right out your front door in the dirt street, and you had a swimming pool just over the levee in the Sacramento River.”
In addition to his wife of 72 years, his son and his brother, Mr. Pierucci is survived by a sister, Diane Garcia, and two grandchildren. A private service is planned.